I love to travel and do research for my writing, and I wish I could do it more often. My latest trip was to New York City in search of ideas for the second book of my trilogy Lantern in the Mist. I spent three whole days at The Tenement Museum on 97 Orchard Street, at the Lower East Side historic district.
The museum is exactly where the immigrants lived during their first years in the country before moving to less impoverished neighborhoods. It’s a unique museum, for they offer multiple tours centering on the visitors’ involvement and not only in artifacts. Yes, we do see the amazing amount of work that has been done to preserve everyday items like utensils, clothes, plates, and sheet music. Yet, what touched and helped make my trip worthwhile was to live the immigrant experience vicariously, for the idea behind the museum is to give you a glimpse of their daily lives.
As I listened to the stories of the families who lived on 97 Orchard for over a century, and their struggles in adapting from age-old European cultures to their new, somewhat still savage home, I was able to understand the deep and remarkable contribution these courageous people made to our country.
This trip was deeply inspirational. It led me to think of Martha Colby, the character in the first Lantern in the Mist book, and her dreams of “streets paved with gold.” As the immigrants who lived in Orchard Street, Martha experienced the same crude reality when landing on the shores of New York City. I am sure the information gathered on this trip will translate into characters in the second book of the Lantern trilogy.
Visit The Tenement Museum on your next trip to NYC. If you love American history, you won’t regret it!